Emerging Applications For Blockchain
WRITTEN BY Chalmers Brown, JUL 18, 2017 @ 07:00 AM
With so much of what I do in my role for a payments platform going into the use of blockchain for securing and speeding our transaction rates, I regularly review other applications that are employing this same technology. If you are not familiar with it, blockchain allows for a secure exchange of value between individuals and organizations in a distributed fashion. It maintains what is a continuously growing list of data records. The ledger is protected from tampering and any types of changes to the data records, making it useful for both financial and non-financial transactions.
Here are some incredible ways that blockchain is being applied that illustrate just how much this technology can -- and will -- make a difference in numerous industries beyond the financial world.
Internet Of Things (IoT)
Possibly one of the most exciting prospects is the intersection of IoT and blockchain. While there is a long way to go before this technology partnership comes to fruition, there are numerous ideas in the works as to how it can help various industries, including manufacturing.
For example, since IoT is about connecting various devices and driving new efficiencies from this type of network, blockchain can provide the security to enact various levels of control over certain aspects of the manufacturing process. This could also be valuable to supply chains and logistics companies as well as connections made in other industries -- everything from the use of telematics in fleet applications to greater security for home and vehicle networks.
With seemingly everything focused on big data, the world of research, statistical analysis and forecasting has gained more attention. By incorporating blockchain to decentralize prediction markets just as blockchain has decentralized payments and financial transactions, a predictions market could develop. The result could be radical changes to how people place bets, purchase and sell stocks, and make determinations about the potential for certain events related to everything from elections to weather patterns. The act of decentralizing what always followed a traditional model allows various other models to be considered and used that were previously not allowed.
One of the most challenging industries to be in is healthcare due to the political environment as well as the growing pressures associated with creating a more efficient environment in regard to cost. This application for blockchain caught my attention because most startup founders and small business owners are struggling with health insurance and concerned about how to access health benefits. However, making the industry more efficient could help lower costs and improve service delivery for better, more affordable care.
One way to make health care better is to create a more effective way to share the significant amount of data that goes into making healthcare decisions as well as determining how the data can be used to make more accurate diagnoses and deliver effective treatment. Here is where blockchain can provide a pathway to secure, fast data transfers between providers, healthcare users, new home-care services, and other stakeholders like insurance companies or healthcare exchanges.
Energy Provision And Management
Another industry that could benefit from blockchain's decentralized framework is the energy industry, which has been seeking a way to create more efficient energy generation programs. For example, new companies are emerging that allow solar power customers to generate, buy and sell energy within their neighborhoods rather than to go through an energy company. Removing this middleman from the energy marketplace means better rates and a balanced grid system that delivers energy at the right time to the right people.
No matter what your political views are about gun ownership, this particular application does offer an interesting way to address public ownership of guns. The records of gun ownership stored within the blockchain could not be tampered with and could provide a more effective way to stop certain people from acquiring guns. In connecting some of the above applications together, IoT could create the network wherein health records, law enforcement and gun companies could be linked to make safer decisions related to gun ownership that cannot be done with the current fragmented system. This could potentially allow certain people to securely purchase guns while stopping those who might be planning on doing any harm.
Background Checks And Employment Verification
While HR in larger organizations may be able to tap into larger resources to take care of their background checks, small companies struggle and often forego doing these very necessary checks. For those HR departments that can do it, there's still an extensive amount of time involved and, even then, there could still be doubt about accuracy. With the inclusion of blockchain, criminal records, employment histories and other background information could be stored in a ledger where nothing could be falsified, the entire process becomes streamlined for quick answers and the most comprehensive picture of each potential employee could be created in a cost-effective way.
Transformations In The Works
These are just some of the standout applications for blockchain -- because there are dozens more I didn't list here that are also fascinating in terms of the potential to change how we access and protect critical information. With more of our lives being summed up by data, we should all be paying attention to the integration of blockchain in various industries.
It's also important for every type of business to stay on top of how this type of technology is being incorporated into processes and procedures. With the ability to transform how we work, staying in the know about blockchain's development and even choosing to become an early adopter can create a competitive advantage for your company.